Oil rises on hopes for deeper OPEC output cuts, US-China trade talks

OPEC lowered its 2019 global oil demand growth forecast to 0.98 million barrels per day. (AFP)
Updated 11 October 2019

Oil rises on hopes for deeper OPEC output cuts, US-China trade talks

  • OPEC lowered its 2019 global oil demand growth forecast to 0.98 million barrels per day
  • Top US and Chinese negotiators wrapped up the first of two days of scheduled trade talks on Thursday

SEOUL: Oil prices climbed early on Friday, building on gains in the previous session, after producer club OPEC hinted at making deeper cuts in supply while optimism was revived over talks between the United States and China to end their trade war.
International benchmark Brent crude futures were at $59.26 a barrel by 0251 GMT, up 16 cents, or 0.3 percent, from their previous settlement. Brent settled up 1.3 percent at $59.10 a barrel on Thursday.
US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures rose 16 cents, also up 0.3 percent, from their last close to $53.71 per barrel. In the previous session, WTI settled 1.8 percent higher at $53.55 a barrel.
On Thursday Mohammad Barkindo, Secretary-General of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), said all options were on the table, including a deeper supply cut to balance oil markets. A decision would be taken at a December meeting between the OPEC and its partners, he said.
OPEC lowered its 2019 global oil demand growth forecast to 0.98 million barrels per day (bpd), while leaving its 2020 demand growth estimate unchanged at 1.08 million bpd, according to OPEC’s monthly report.
Beyond OPEC, trade talks between the United States and China also remained on the market’s radar as the world’s top two economies seek to resolve a more-than-a-year-long trade row that has slowed global economic growth and curbed fuel consumption.
“Oil bought into the upbeat tone from the bilateral talks as well, for better or for worse, and was also boosted by fighting talk on prices by the OPEC secretary-general,” said Jeffrey Halley, a senior market analyst at OANDA in Singapore.
Top US and Chinese negotiators wrapped up the first of two days of scheduled trade talks on Thursday, with business groups expressing optimism that the two sides might be able to ease tensions and delay a US tariff hike set for next week.
“The United States is the largest global consumer of oil while China, the biggest driver of year-on-year oil demand growth,” said Stephen Innes, Asia Pacific market strategist at AxiTrader.
“The most significant sentiment driver hinges on the outcome of the trade talks which, if (they) end on a positive note, could go a long way to begin to repair the economic damage done ... these economic powerhouses would need more oil,” said Innes.


EU pledges to stay green in virus recovery

Updated 29 May 2020

EU pledges to stay green in virus recovery

  • To help economies from the 27-nation bloc bounce back as quick as possible

BRUSSELS: The European Commission pledged on Thursday to stay away from fossil-fueled projects in its coronavirus recovery strategy, and to stick to its target of making Europe the first climate neutral continent by the middle of the century, but environmental groups said they were unimpressed.

To weather the deep recession triggered by the pandemic, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has proposed a €1.85 trillion ($2 trillion) package consisting of a revised long-term budget and a recovery fund, with 25 percent of the funding set aside for climate action.

To help economies from the 27-nation bloc bounce back as quick as possible, the EU’s executive arm wants to increase a €7.5-billion ($8.25 billion) fund presented earlier this year that was part of an investment plan aiming at making the continent more environmentally friendly.

Under the commission’s new plan, which requires the approval of member states, the mechanism will be expanded to €40 billion ($44 billion) and is expected to generate another €150 billion in public and private investment. The money is designed to help coal-dependent countries weather the costs of moving away from fossil fuels.

Environmental group WWF acknowledged the commission’s efforts but expressed fears the money could go to “harmful activities such as fossil fuels or building new airports and motorways.”

“It can’t be used to move from coal to coal,” Frans Timmermans, the commission executive vice president in charge the European Green Deal, responded on Thursday. “It is unthinkable that support will be given to go from coal to coal. That is how we are going to approach the issue. That’s the only way you can ensure you actually do not harm.”

Timmermans conceded, however, that projects involving fossil fuels could sometimes be necessary, especially the use of natural gas to help move away from coal.

The commission also wants to dedicate an extra €15 billion ($16.5 billion) to an agricultural fund supporting rural areas in their transition toward a greener model.

Von der Leyen, who took office last year, has made the fight against climate change the priority of her term. Timmermans insisted that her goal to make Europe the world’s first carbon-neutral continent by 2050 remained unchanged, confirming that upgraded targets for the 2030 horizon would be presented by September.

Reacting to the executive arm’s recovery plans, Greenpeace lashed out at a project it described as “contradictory at best and damaging at worst,” accusing the commission of sticking to a growth-driven mentality detrimental to the environment.

“The plan includes several eye-catching green `options,’ including home renovation schemes, taxes on single-use plastic waste and the revenues of digital giants like Google and Facebook. But it does not solve the problem of existing support for gas, oil, coal, and industrial farming — some of the main drivers of a mounting climate and environmental emergency,” Greenpeace said.

“The plan also fails to set strict social or green conditions on access to funding for polluters like airlines or carmakers.”

Timmermans said the EU would keep investing in the development of emission-free public transportation, and promoting clean private transport through the EU budget.